I am new to this war.
I’m learning every single day.
I have a longgggg way to go, and I’m building awareness constantly.
That’s the thing about this learning curve and mindfulness on lessening your waste . . . you can’t forget what you've learned, and the only way is forward.
That means there are days when I get frustrated or feel like a failure. Last week, I bought a quarter of a watermelon wrapped in GLAD wrap out of habit. I could have bought an entire watermelon, eating some and making popsicles or watermelon margaritas with the left overs. I was only thinking about the immediate scenario in front of me, and that was a simple snack for my daughter for the next three days.
Is it the end of the world? No.
Is that piece of cling wrap going to exist forever? Yes.
Sometimes we need to allow ourselves some grace, especially when making changes to a lifestyle you've led your entire adult entire life! Like Alexx Stuart said in her book, Low Tox Life, “At the end of the day this is a bit like learning a new language. You're not going to be fluent in a week."
Ridding yourself of the disassociation with your waste takes time. Changing your shopping habits takes time.
If you’ve been following along, you’d know that our family recently moved to Sydney, Australia. We are living in council parameters of Canada Bay, and it’s so lovely here. It’s right on the water, super clean and pristine. I was really impressed with the caliber of our neighbors and our surroundings.
Within a few days of arriving I bought a Maze compost bin (smaller version of mine, here). I had recently watched The War On Waste, and learned that food scraps that are placed into landfill emit crazy amounts of methane, which is 28 times more potent that carbon dioxide. Eek. In Australia alone, 4 million tons of food ends up in landfill, which is enough to fill 8,400 olympic size swimming pools. That would be a methane powerhouse!
Anyhow, I couldn't believe how quickly we cut our waste down by about 60%. Every night we would add our scraps to the bin, spray them with friendly microbes and use the fermented juices to fertilise our veggie patch and garden. An added bonus is that you can also use the juice to clean the toilets in your home!
Once my bin was completely chockablock (full) I decided to contact the Canada Bay council because we are not in a position to turn it into mulch or bury it where we are living. I asked them what could be done with my compost and why the green bin wasn't for garden waste AND food scraps (as it is in America and other parts of Australia).
This was their response to my email:
Thank you for your email regarding collection of food waste in the garden organics bin. Council supports the recovery and composting of food waste, and previously funded a major trial of food waste collection in the green lidded garden organics bin. Unfortunately, we’ve found that there is currently limited infrastructure for composting food waste in and around Inner Sydney.
(Not going to chat about the email now, too much to say, hah). However, I was pleased to read further and see that the gentleman recommend a website called Share Waste, and also added that I should get in touch with my local community garden because they are always eager for compost.
If you head to Sharewaste.com you'll see their clever tagline, "Give your waste a second chance." It's free to join, and then you simply choose if you're receiving scraps or looking or seeking a compost location.
I found a "host" in less than ten minutes and she lived eight minutes from our house. I got my daughter loaded her in the carseat, and then loaded the compost bin in the front seat with an extra baking sheet loaded with fruit and veg cut offs. (No, I did not buckle them in)!
My lovely host (Let's call her Mrs R) mentioned that she was typically home, but that I could leave the scraps in the compost bin at the side gate if no one answered the door. How handy is that?
When we arrived, I almost didn't knock, but I'm SO GLAD that I did. Mrs R answered the door with a big smile and popped her hearing aids in. I pegged her to be in her 70's and I could tell she had a heart of gold. She took an immediately liking to my daughter and said that we should take her over to see the pet quails in her front yard! After that we each took a hand and helped my daughter walk to our car to grab all the food scraps. We slowly, and patiently, made our way around the backyard where we were greeted by a huge pen of hungry chooks (chickens). My daughter was so excited and started pointing and giggling, "Ducks! Ducks!" Not quite right, but it was pretty darn cute.
Mrs R grabbed the compost and the baking tray and heaved it all into a pile for chooks who proceeded to go nuts, pecking with joy. "They will eat most of that by tomorrow morning, but they won't touch the citrus. Whatever is left will just go into my garden compost."
I said how cool it was so see my scraps going to a good cause and not into landfill, and I explained to Mrs R that I was new to Share Waste. "I've always cared about the planet, but now I'm learning about how I can actually look after it a bit better." Mrs R smiled and said that was normal and that each season of life will teach us different things. I added that I also wanted a green thumb and dreamed of having my own chooks one day, to which is added, "Yes dear, another season, you'll get there." Ok fairy godmother... whatever you say.
As we were watching the chooks chow down, Mr R came outside to say g'day and he offered that we stay for a cuppa in the sunshine on the balcony. I thought that sounded glorious, so we all had a seat and soaked up the sunshine. I had a delicious cuppa and they also gave my daughter a snack too which she had while playing in the garden.
I was deliriously happy sitting there in silence at times, chatting away in others. We talked about their life in Germany, where I lived in Poland, how many kids they had and what life was like in Sydney (we both had recently moved).
To think that waste brought us together is a funny thing. As I drove away from their house I couldn't help but think that I had made two new friends and made some chooks quite happy too.
P.S. After sharing the company with all my Instagram followers, I got a ton of messages from people about their good Share Waste experiences as well. So many of you had found hosts to take your scraps to, and that means, little by little, we are making a small difference.
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